On Tuesday, the 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, in conjunction with Poker Night in America, live streamed an unprecedented four final tables at the same time. One of those final tables was SHRPO $5,000,000 Guaranteed Freezeout Main Event, a tournament that had a slight overlay as it attracted 907 players, 93 players shy of meeting the guarantee.
The top 150 players earned a minimum payday of $7,500, but the marquee $1,000,000 first-place prize ended up being awarded to Omar Zazay, who defeated local poker dealer Brian Phillis in an epic heads-up battle. What's more, the duo managed to outlast the defending champion, Daniel Colman, who saw his title defense come to an end in third place for $310,000.
"It was a really long journey – a four-day tournament and I was just trying to take stay focused and take it one step at a time," Zazay told SHRPO officials after the win. "Getting down three-handed with Dan Colman was definitely a sticky situation. I had him on my right so I had a little edge on him. I was trying to do the best I could against him and not give him chips so he could use them against me. I picked my spots well. The heads-up was a lot going on. I know I really wanted this title so I tried my best to win. I think he had me at almost a 3-to-1 chip advantage. I just took it one hand at a time and slowly edged my way to the win. ”
Prior to the win Zazay had $323,469 in live tournament earnings, with his best cashing being $82,779 for a third-place finish in the 2014 Card Player Poker Tour Durant Main Event. Other notable cashes included runner-up finishes in the 2013 Choctaw Poker Classic $1,100 Platinum Event for $64,084 and 2014 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic $1,100 No-Limit Hold'em for $33,440.
Final Table Results
|1||Omar Zazay||Richardson, TX||$1,000,000|
|2||Brian Phillis||Boynton Beach, FL||$575,000|
|3||Dan Colman||Holden, TX||$310,000|
|4||Larry Mocchia||Pembroke Pines, FL||$220,000|
|5||Randy Pfeifer||Lancaster, NY||$180,000|
|6||Joey Couden||Blacklick, OH||$150,000|
|7||Vladislav Mezheritsky||Aventura, FL||$125,000|
|8||Paul Volpe||West Chester, PA||$100,000|
|9||Rick Alvarado||Las Vegas, NV||$75,000|
According to updates from the event, the first final table elimination occurred on Hand #24 in Level 27 (40,000/80,000/10,000) when Larry Mocchia, a local player who qualified for the tournament via a $140 Step Satellite, raised to 240,000 from the hijack and then called when Rick Alvarado moved all in for 960,000 from the button.
Alvarado had a major kicker issue, and it didn't get resolved as the board ran out a clean . With that, Alvarado was ousted in ninth place for $75,000.
This is very huge for me. It's been a lot of hard work.
World Series of Poker bracelet winner Paul Volpe was the next to go after getting his last 540,000 all in preflop holding the against the of Joseph Couden. The board ran out a low , and Volpe had to settle for eighth place and $100,000 in prize money.
From there, Vladislav Mezheritsky (7th - $125,000), Couden (6th - $150,000), and Randy Pfeifer (5th - $180,000) all hit the rail. Then, on Hand #113 of the final table with the blinds at 60,000/120,000/20,000, Mocchia's amazing run came to an end in fourth place. It happened when he raised to 250,000 from the button and Zazay defended the big blind.
Both players checked the flop, and then Zazay led out for 300,000 on the turn. Mocchia made the call and then shoved all in for 2.625 million after Zazay checked the river. Zazay hit the tank for more than two minutes before calling with the for a pair of kings, which bested the of Mocchia, who took home $220,000 for his fourth-place finish.
Three-handed play lasted 40 hands, and then Colman and Phillis clashed on Hand #153 of the final table, which took place in Level 30 (75,000/150,000/25,000). It happened when the two saw a flop and Phillis checked to Colman, who bet 550,000. Phillis woke up with a check-raise to 2.5 million, Colman moved all in, and Phillis called.
It was an action flop as Colman had flopped a set and Phillis a straight. Colman was looking for the board to pair to stay alive, but it didn't happen as the blanked on the turn followed by the on the river. Colman came agonizingly close to accomplishing the unthinkable – a title defense in one of poker's premiere events – and had to settle for third place and $310,000.
That pot allowed Phillis to begin heads-up play with 19.45 million to Zazay's 7.75 million, but the latter would not go quietly into the night. The two battled heads up for more than 100 hands, during which time Zazay whittled his opponent down to just over two million.
Then, in Level 32 (150,000/300,000/50,000) on Hand #272 of the final table, Zazay moved all in holding the and Phillis called off his last 2.325 million with the . The flop was gin for Zazay, and he captured the title after the blanked on the turn followed by the on the river.
Phillis earned $575,000 for his runner-up finish while Zazay took down the $1 million first-place prize as well as the SHRPO Championship trophy.
"It’s an amazing feeling," Zazay said after the win. "This is very huge for me. It's been a lot of hard work. I played a lot of poker and come up short lots of times and feel like I can do better so it’s good to accomplish a big title under my belt."
Zazay added: "The Hard Rock did a great job setting up a big event like this. It was a huge success. All the players are happy and everyone that played got their money’s worth and I hope they do it again."
For more on Zazay's win, check out his winner's interview:
For more on the SHRPO, check out the following recaps:
- Fabrizio "SixthSenSe19" Gonzalez's captures Event #22: $2,650 buy-in $1,000,000 Guarantee No-Limit Hold'em Freezeout title for $236,500.
- David Eldridge wins Event #23 $1,100 No-Limit Hold'em for $146,100.
- Jason Mercier wins $25,400 High Roller for $517,000.
*Photos, quotes, and data courtesy of SHRPO.